Why I Teach Online

I get a lot of questions from teachers about what it’s like to teach in an online setting, especially an asynchronous one. Here’s some background:

For my entire career, I’ve gravitated to what I felt like have been the most challenging environments. I have always had more fun teaching students who need special consideration to get their needs met. I’ve worked in alternative, recovery, a Catholic school and in traditional public ed. settings. In each setting, I would volunteer for whatever difficult situations needed support.

I got to District 287 on an EdTech grant to help them navigate through a challenging situation that involved some complex solutions. To keep me there they made me a part time Innovation Coach and I was able to explore and try new things and help others do the same.

If it saved money and helped students learn better then we ran with it. I’m still allowed to explore new ideas over a decade later. I’ve been able to help support teachers in all kinds of unique programs that meet needs of particular student populations.

This led to my work in OER, Accessibility, Digital Design & Delivery and ultimately working to improve a small online program that is now one of the largest in the state.

I saw online learning as a way to say yes to students who had needs not being served in other settings.There were lots of myths about online learning, some still persist due to the distance learning over the pandemic. I wanted to demonstrate that online learning could be as good as, if not better in some situations, than traditional face to face instruction. So I started working.

I have a lot of amazing success stories of my learners and occasionally I share them. I got a message today from a student that really made me feel seen.

“An online setting can be very difficult for students and teachers alike. You have this positivity to you that illuminates me, and I’m sure it’s apparent with other students. I love how you embrace technology when others would turn away. I also love how you correlate assignments to us, and you really make us think about how this affects us as students and members of our society. A huge thank you for helping me with that problem with another course. You went above and beyond for me and I seriously can’t thank you enough. I will continue to stand up for what I believe is right, thanks to you.”

That is the impact that providing solutions for students can make. I do miss the classroom sometimes, but I know that the hundreds of students I teach every year have opportunities they may not have otherwise had if it were not for online learning. That’s why I continue to stick with it and work every day to keep finding ways to improve.

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Categorized as Education

By Jon Fila

Jon is a Teacher/Consultant/OER Strategist who focuses on equity issues (accessibility, racial, gender). He has worked in education for over twenty years. He has served as an Innovation Coach, Curriculum Coordinator, PD Specialist, Department Chair, and has worked on aspects of Strategic Planning and has facilitated those groups on topics of Equity. He has been making his own stuff for a long time and shares whatever he can. Awards/Honors: *2022 Minnesota Teacher of the Year Finalist *2020 Exemplar District for CITES project that promotes accessibility practices (Through Center for Applied Special Technology [CAST]) *2018 NROC Ambassador of the Year *2017 Amazon Web Services (AWS) City On A Cloud Innovation Challenge *2016 Excellence Award eLearning Summit for MN Partnership for Collaborative Curriculum (MPCC) *2015 Local Government Innovation Award - The Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota *2011 TIES Technology Leadership Team of the Year *2011 TIES Exceptional Teacher *1986 Mr. Hustle Award Recipient (Jim Dutcher B-ball Camp)

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